JaVale and Pam McGee Talk Olympic Gold Medals, Team USA, More in B/R AMA

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 19, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 26: (L-R) Pam McGee and JaVale McGee attend the Los Angeles premiere of "Women of Troy" from HBO at Ray Stark Family Theatre on February 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO)
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO

JaVale McGee is fresh off winning a gold medal with Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Doing so runs in the family—his mother, Pamela McGee, is a Women's Basketball Hall of Famer who claimed gold at the 1984 Games. 

The pair joined B/R for an AMA that touched upon being the first mother-son pair to win gold, their biggest mentors during their professional careers and more. 

@blayzegaboi: How does it feel to be the first mother-son duo to win gold?

J: Amazing. People don’t realize how hard it is to do anything first because everything has been done. There are a lot of firsts going on in our family, and it’s an amazing feat. Some of the things we’ve achieved we didn’t even think were possible. 

P: I think I appreciate his gold medal more than my own, which I don't really understand why. It’s extremely rewarding because I’ve been there from day one, and I know the struggle. His is better because it’s historical. It’s kind of like a legacy thing you created. I appreciate his more than my own.

@Kendall_forte: Best experience with Team USA this year?

Just being out there with those guys. It was truly amazing to play with the best players in the league. In moments like that, you take advantage of absorbing the moment. You don’t think about the future or the past, you just appreciate everything going on.

@Saxophony: At what age did both of you start learning basketball? Who were your basketball influences growing up? 

P: He started about nine or 10. He didn’t get serious until high school. I started at nine. I didn’t force him into it, but when he was 12 or 13, I started to see if he wanted to take it serious. In high school, he was on JV. He realized he had to put in the work because all the cute girls date the varsity guys so he realized I might be right about working hard. 

@allen_patrick215: When did JaVale first beat you in a one-on-one game? 

He had to be a sophomore or junior in high school. Both him and I are so competitive. I wouldn’t let him win. Our last game, I said you have to shoot outside the three-point line, but I don’t have to take it back. First person to three wins. This is when I realized he might have a chance to get paid. I got the rebound from one of his misses and I was about to put it up. He took one step from the three-point line and pinned my shot on the square. Once he had the ball, he said ‘you didn’t say I couldn’t goaltend.’ He shot the three and he beat me and that’s when I thought he might have a shot. He talks a lot of smack.

@Mools: Which WNBA/NBA teammates would you say have been your biggest mentors? 

J: Andre Iguodala. He taught me to be more of a professional when it comes to not just basketball, but investing and off-the-court things. He really helped me.

P: Cheryl Miller. I had never seen anyone work on that level. Not only was she talented, but I had never seen a player played as hard as she did. Whenever she’s on the court, she stays the same level. I was never a practice player, but she really taught me you practice the way you play. She instilled that advice, which took my game to a whole new level. When you do it in practice, then it comes naturally in the game.

@66amrakhctif: How has Pam inspired you to be the player you are today?

She’s my main inspiration, truthfully. When I was a kid, I really didn’t know what I was doing. From the beginning, she knew I’m tall, athletic and can run. She thought I would get a college education. In her mind, she thought I would earn a scholarship. As a kid, you don’t really think past that. As a kid, I thought whatever she said I would do. She sent me in the right direction, and it was truly a blessing. 

@thedudeyaknow: Funniest or weirdest chant you’ve heard from a crowd?

J: It didn't have to do with me, but last year I was in Denver. I had my teammate Bol Bol. Someone said something really inappropriate with his name in it, and I thought it was hilarious.

@pamelamcgee: What would it have been like to play in the modern WNBA with all of the things that come with today’s game? 

I don’t know. I just realize your time is your time. When I played, the players could really play. The level was at another level. I’m happy wherever the game is going that I’m historical and in the history books with being in the WNBA during the inception of the league.

@TwoWayWigs: What was it like playing for the Warriors, and what did it feel to have that success year in, year out? 

They do it right. They make it feel like family. They make sure everything is ok at home and good with you. Outside of basketball, they’re really meticulous about things like that, so I think that’s why they had so much success.

@km417: Favorite moment of your career?

J: I don’t believe in favorite moments. I live in the moment during the championships. You don’t know it's favorite until it happens. I have a lot of favorites.

P: Ditto, true champions and true winners should always have another mountain. We always continue to create a favorite moment.

@DreTh3Goat: Who did you enjoy playing with more: LeBron or Steph?

I would probably say LeBron the first year I was on the Lakers.

@dplobesbball: Better feeling: NBA title or Olympic gold? 

NBA title, you had to play 82 games to win it and possibly 28 games in the playoffs, so it’s a grind.

@SunsCardinals: Are you excited to play with a very young, up-and-coming squad like Phoenix?

Very excited, just seeing the hunger those guys had last year making it all the way to the Finals. I saw a couple spaces they could have filled in, and I feel like I filled in one of those spaces they needed to take it all the way again, but to win.